1975.09.01: Movie Review: Cooley High (Red Tide)

Cooley High

Red Tide #20
September 1975

Movie Review: Cooley High
[By Michael Letwin]

Cooley High is a pretty popular movie today. A lot of people have gone to see it and most them dig it. There are a bunch of reasons for that, and one is that for people who lived their teenage lives eleven years ago, it brings back memories of growing up.

Those who didn’t live through it still liked it because we could relate to it for today. In lots of ways, the people who made Cooley High didn’t put a lot of effort into it to pretend it really was 11 years ago. So the movie looks like it was set in 1964 if you look at people’s hair, but 1975 if you check out the cars, language, handshakes and just about everything else.

The story is about Cochise, Preach and their partners[,] who slide around the streets of Chicago pickup up women, getting high and raising hell. They aren’t tough enough to really be a street gang, but they stick together, protect each other and have a good time.

These people couldn’t be bothered to go to the useless school that they were enrolled in, and split at the first opportunity every day.


A lot of what the film deals with is the way that the men and women relate. It shows the games that go on between them, and everyone ends up getting laid. Half the movie’s time was spent showing men hustling women at parties, in hallways, and living rooms. It sure seemed familiar.

In the end, Cochise gets killed by some gangsters the happy times that the movie shows are gone. Preach takes off for Hollywood, and others for parts unknown.


The story wasn’t brilliant. But movies like Cooley High are popular also because they are about black people’s lives. Most movies and TV shows are about white people and their situations. Even with the “Jeffersons” and “Good Times,” it’s still rare to see movies [that] are just about black people. Cooley High is an all all-black movie.

Cooley High is worth seeing (but for three bucks) because it has something to do with real life, and because it’s funny.

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See: http://theredtide.wordpress.com/] 

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